For those who seek conservation and biodiversity data sets, the USGS Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries program has been working on integrating biological occurrence data into a national clearinghouse called the Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON). Occurrence data is information about a specific species that was observed/collected/sensed at a specific place by a specific person at a specific time. BISON quickly points biologists, land managers and amateur naturalists to Federal and non-Federal biodiversity information all in one place.
The merging of giant national biological data sets is making it easier to manage our living resources with a level of information not dreamed of in the past. Occurrence data helps us determine if species are going extinct, track the incursion of invasive species, and monitor the effects of climate change by observations of the changing animal migration patterns or plant blooming times. This data can also be used for everyday discoveries, such as generating checklists of wildflowers for nature walks and finding the best fishing spots.
Gerald “Stinger” Guala, who plays an instrumental role in directing the BISON project, will be at the Library on Friday November 21st 11:30 am-12:30 pm in the Pickford Theater, 3rd floor, James Madison Building to discuss “Big Data and the Linkage of Federal Data Resources for Biodiversity Science.” Stinger is the Branch Chief of Eco-Science Synthesis in the Core Science Systems Mission Area of USGS, as well as the director for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) program.
The BISON project began in late 2010 and was formally released in April of 2013. There are currently 168 million records with projections of passing a quarter of a billion records in 2015! Many of these records are textual, but BISON also collects images, videos, and sound files. This clearinghouse brings together data from a variety of sources such as the scientific monitoring program BioData , the U.S. Node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, specimens held in museum collections, information produced by universities, and citizen science projects such as eBird or iNaturalist.
One of BISON’s great successes has been the integration of decades of ornithology data from tens of millions of records. For the first time ever, a user can see and analyze data from Cornell’s eBird project and USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s Bird Banding Program, along with nearly 100 other bird data sets which all form the largest, most comprehensive bird data set for any country on earth! The data density has allowed highly precise forecasts of bird migration and habitat use and has even allowed tracking of many species by weather radar.
If you cannot make it to the “Big Data and the Linkage of Federal Data Resources for Biodiversity Science” lecture, it will be captured and later broadcast on the Library’s science/technology webcast page and YouTube channel “Topics in Science” playlist in the coming months.